Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of a new Covid-19 certificate that will permit intra-EU travel without quarantine, self-isolation or additional testing requirements.
The EU Covid-19 certificate will be available in digital or paper format, and will verify the holder’s negative Covid status through evidence of vaccination, a recent negative test for Covid-19 or recent recovery from the infection.
Certificates won’t serve as a travel document, and nor will they become a pre-condition for EU citizens to exercise their right to free movement within the Schengen Area, MEPs resolved.
There will be provisions too for citizens of third countries, such as the UK, seeing to travel within the EU, so long as they have travelled legally to the bloc and met any entry requirements.
They also agreed the scheme should be time-limited to the pandemic, likely for 12 months from implementation. "The aim is to reach an agreement ahead of the summer tourist season," said the parliament on Thursday (29 April).
MEPs agreed holders of an EU Covid-19 certificate should not be subject to additional travel restrictions such as quarantine, self-isolation or testing.
Members also called for universal EU-wide access to free and timely Covid-19 testing to ensure the scheme doesn’t discriminate against those who are yet to be vaccinated or can’t afford tests.
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, chair of the parliament’s civil liberties committee, said: "We need to put in place the EU Covid-19 certificate to re-establish people’s confidence in Schengen while we continue to fight against the pandemic.
"Member states must coordinate their response in a safe manner and ensure the free movement of citizens within the EU. Vaccines and tests must be accessible and free for all citizens. Member states should not introduce further restrictions once the certificate is in force."
Irish MEP Deirdre Clune was among those to remark on the decision, stating it would be incumbent on the Irish government to take steps to implement the scheme.
The #DigitalGreenCertificate was voted on this morning @Europarl_EN - 540:119. It is just for travel purposes and is time limited to the #pandemic. It will be up to the Irish Government to implement its own plan. @FineGael @EPPGroup pic.twitter.com/bA0aB3lmoP— Deirdre Clune (@DeirdreCluneMEP) April 29, 2021